Mike Hopkins in 2009 Took Turkeys and Continued to Win at 3D Tournaments with His PSE Bows
Editor’s Note: Thirty seven year old Mike Hopkins of Junction City, Kansas, has been shooting a PSE bow since 2008. Hopkins is a classic example of how to become a better bowhunter. Mike decided to shoot 3D archery just before he took his first buck with a bow. As you’ll see, Mike consistently has been able to take more animals and a wider variety of animals, since he’s incorporated 3D archery into his bowhunting program.
PSE: Let’s talk about the third year after you shot your first buck with your PSE bow. From the first year to the second year, you really stepped up your tournament archery participation, and you took five more animals the second year than you did the first year. You also moved up in class in tournament archery from Bow Novice, to Open C, to Open B class. Tell us about the third year, 2009. What bow were you shooting?
Hopkins: I was still shooting my X-Force Dream Season hunting bow. In tournament archery, I started shooting a Dream Season bow that I had built in PSE’s Custom Shop. This bow was set up with a single cam system for shooting in the Open B class.
PSE: Tell us about your 2009 hunting season.
Hopkins: That year, I shot more turkeys than deer. I shot a couple of does in the fall, and then in the spring I took three gobblers with my bow.
PSE: What was your most memorable turkey hunt?
Hopkins: I was walking into the woods around lunch time and wanted to go to a spot that was right beside the lake. As I was walking into the area I wanted to hunt, I heard some turkeys. I was just barely able to see the turkeys down by the lake, although they were out in the open. I knew that to approach them I’d have to be very careful. Luckily, bushes and trees already had greened out. When I got into position, the turkeys started walking toward me down the edge of the bank. When the birds got about 20 yards away, I drew my bow and looked for the 12 ring that you see on a 3D archery target, as I prepared to aim at this gobbler. I was accustomed to shooting the 12 ring on a 3D turkey target, so when I had the opportunity to take a gobbler, I knew where the 12 ring would be, and I aimed for that portion of the turkey’s body.
When I released the arrow, I got a clean pass through, and the arrow went out into the lake and sank, so I couldn’t recover it. I shot the largest gobbler in the group, but that tom didn’t drop like they do on the TV shows. It got into the air and flew out over the lake. I had to leave my bow on the bank and swim out into the lake to retrieve my gobbler. But the good news was, I saw it fall, and I plainly could see where it was. I was wearing Mossy Oak Break Up camouflage at the time, and it was a very memorable turkey hunt. I wasn’t using a blind. I was hunting from the ground, and the hunt was more or less unscripted. The other two turkeys I took, I shot from a blind. I had patterned the other two turkeys like you’d pattern a deer. I decided they were coming through one corner of this corn field, and if I set up a blind, called and waited, they should come out at the same place they’d come out before, and they did.
One of the reasons I didn’t hesitate to make this shot on the turkey was that I’d built up a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to shoot the 12 ring on a 3D turkey target. A turkey is a very unique animal to try and take with a bow, especially with a broadside shot. Some people like to shoot a large guillotine type blade broadhead at the head of the turkey, but I just shoot the same broadheads at turkeys that I use when I deer hunt. Then I don’t have to change anything on my bow or my shaft that I’m comfortable shooting.
During the fall of that year (2009), I moved over to Fort Jackson in South Carolina and took an 8 point buck with my X-Force Dream Season hunting bow. I had just finished my first year in the Open B class before deer season, and I won out of Open B and knew I would have to move up a class for 2010. So, I was shooting a lot before hunting season, and once again, several things about 3D archery helped me become a better bowhunter. I was shooting at the kill zone on animal sized targets, shooting at varying distances and shooting a lot, and I built up confidence in my ability to draw, aim and shoot, not only at 3D targets. When an animal presented a similar type of shot that I had shot when competing in 3D archery, I had no hesitation in taking the shot and knowing that I could make the shot. That confidence is another very critical key to being a successful bowhunter. Each one of those factors impacting tournament archery also relates very specifically to my bowhunting success.